Staying safe from dogs ::

Many serious and deadly dog attacks are inflicted on children who are visiting or living temporarily at the home of a grandparent, family friend or babysitter where a pit bull or rottweiler is kept.1

Most dangerous situations

  • Leaving an infant or toddler alone with any breed of dog.
  • New or temporary living situations involving children and dangerous dog breeds.
  • Any dog with a history of aggression in a household with children.
  • Approaching a chained dog, especially if it is male and unaltered.
  • Encountering a pack of loose dogs, familiar or unfamiliar to you.
  • Inserting yourself into a dogfight, especially when fighting breeds are involved.
  • Approaching a vehicle with a dog inside (or in the bed of a truck).
  • Walking your leashed dog in front a home that harbors a pit bull.
  • Passing a pit bull on the street with your child or leashed dog.

Always remember

  • Do not pet a dog without first letting it see you, even when you know the dog!
  • Do not lean your face close to a dog.
  • Never approach an unfamiliar dog. If the dog wants contact with you, it will approach you in a friendly manner.
  • Do not tease a dog, especially a chained or tethered dog.
  • Do not startle a sleeping dog.
  • Do not play aggressive games with your dog.
  • Do not bother a dog that is eating.
  • Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies.
  • Do not turn your back on a dog and run away.

If you think you may be attacked

Safety tips from the CDC2

  • Stop! Stay still and be calm.
  • Do not panic or make loud noises.
  • Avoid direct eye contact with the dog.
  • Stand with the side of your body facing the dog. Directly staring or facing a dog can appear aggressive (as a challenge) to the dog.
  • Wait for the dog to pass by or slowly back away.
  • If the dog does attack, "feed" him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog.
  • If you are knocked down, curl into a ball with your head tucked in and your hands over your ears and neck.

Body language of a dog indicating a biting risk3

  • Tensed body
  • Stiff tail
  • Drawn back head and/or ears
  • Furrowed brow
  • Yawning
  • Flicking tongue
  • Intense stare
  • Backing away
  • Eyes rolled so whites are visible
  1. U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities: Breeds of Dogs Involved, Age Groups and Other Factors Over a 13-Year Period (2005 to 2017),, May 2018 (
  2. Preventing Dog Bites, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Accessed November 7, 2018) (
  3. Bite Prevention Tips for Adults and Children, Virginia Department of Health > Environmental Epidemiology (Accessed: November 8, 2018) (